COULD A SPORTING ACCIDENT CAUSE ENDOMETRIOSIS?

An interesting letter arrived from a woman in Colorado, posing a question that had not been asked of me in a long time. In her letter Sherry said that she wanted to settle the nagging suspicion that endometriosis may have been induced through fate’s intervention. She specifically referred to two accident! in her past, in which she had been struck forcefully in the abdomen.

“Maybe I’m grasping at straws,” she wrote, “but I can’t help wondering bow I got endometriosis. There’s nothing like it in my family and I seem to be the only woman I know of out here with the condition. Isn’t there some likelihood that a shock to the system can start some internal chain reaction that brings on this disease?”

Sherry had been an active teenager, although menstrual cramps slowed her down through her high school years. During the last half of her senior year, her cramps worsened. Yet she suffered silently. “I was raised to be tough about things that made us physically and emotionally uncomfortable.” she wrote. “It isn’t unusual out here. This is a ranching community and lire can be hard. No one cares about complainers.” It was during a difficult bout with menstrual cramps that she played in a school volleyball competition and was struck by the ball as she jumped to hit it.

“I doubled over so suddenly, and I was in so much pain,” she wrote, “that I had to be carried off the court. The pain soon stopped, but my cramps started to get worse from about that time.” Over-the-counter painkillers offered some relief while she waited to “grow out of” the problem. But it was not to be. Five years later. Sherry went on to say in her letter, she was horseback riding with her new husband when she was thrown by the horse, landing belly-down on a rock. This time, she began bleeding. Frightened, she went to a gynecologist.

Sherry was hospitalized and went into surgery for removal of an ovarian “chocolate cyst.” a cyst with blood in it that has become dark brown and thick as tar. When a biopsy of the cyst was performed, it revealed endometriosis. Curious, Sherry asked her doctor if the first accident might have set off some “internal disorder” that fostered growth of the disease. It was the doctors opinion that accidental traumas have no effect on the onset of endometriosis.

We have found no reference in any scientific journal that implicates any sort of trauma—such as being hit by a ball, falling off a horse, or being injured in an automobile accident—in the onset of endometriosis. In Sherry’s case, the second accident only helped identify the disease. The fall ruptured an endometriotic cyst, which, upon rapturing, leaked blood over the pelvic organs, causing extreme pain.

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